Difference between Unitary and Federal Government

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 9th, 2023

The Difference between Unitary and Federal Governments is that there is no hierarchy of sovereign power in a unitary government, but the federal government has fixed sovereign hierarchy levels. The difference is based on how power is shared in these systems. However, in a federal system, the central government has the power to write the decisions of the state.

Difference between Unitary and Federal Government

The major difference between unitary and federal form of government is listed in the table given below:

Unitary Government Federal Government
No hierarchy of power exists. Power is shared between central and shared governments.
State governments do not have the authority to pass separate laws. The central government holds the power to pass laws for all states.
One central system of governance holds all power. Shared powers at national and state levels.
The source of power is a single central government responsible for passing the country’s laws and looking after law and order in the country. There are different levels of power at the state and central levels.
Example: China, UK, Sri Lanka. Example: India, Switzerland, Canada.

Types of Federal Government

Federalism in India refers to a Government system consisting of two levels: a central level and a regional level. There are two categories of Federal Government:

  • Coming Together Federations – Examples are Switzerland, the United States of America (USA), and Australia.
  • Holding Together Federations – Examples are India, Spain, and Belgium.

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